March 10, 2014

‘Hitchhikers Guide’ Text-based Game Gets an HTML5 Revamp

Douglas Adams created “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” almost 40 years ago as a radio broadcast. Eventually, those radio broadcasts were compiled into a book series that has become one of the most popular science fiction series to date, having spawned movies, television series, and comic books. What many do not know, however, is that the popular series also came out with an early video game. It’s been 30 years since this text-based video game was released, and the BBC is celebrating the game’s anniversary by giving it an HTML5 revamp.

“The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” video game was created in 1984 by Douglas Adams and produced by Infocom. The game was a massive success, selling around 350,000 copies. As a text-based game, players would enter specific commands into the game, and different results would occur based upon the commands given. Type “north,” for instance, and the screen will pop up with text about what happens when you try moving north. Type “look” and you will be given a description of the area your character is in.

In 2004, for the 20th anniversary of the game, the BBC gave the game an update, adding a few images, but the format remained the same. As part of the celebration, the BBC also began hosting the game online so that anyone could play it for free.

Now, 10 years later, the BBC has decided to give the game another, more thorough, update. The 2004 version of the game ran on Flash, but in order to allow mobile users access to the game as well, the BBC has rewritten it in HTML5 coding, making it a tribute game that can, appropriately, be played on any device—be it mobile or desktop. On top of this, a graphical keyboard was added to the game’s client, so that mobile users can play the text-based game with ease. The BBC also intends on transferring the game to a new server, in order to help link it to more social media outlets.

The BBC has presented the game as quite a challenge, and it truly is. It requires some imagination, and an understanding of text-based video games, though its commands are not nearly as complex as other text-based games that are out there. However, unless you are familiar with the actual series, knowing exactly what to do in the game can be extremely difficult. The BBC warns you, on the game’s website itself, that you will “likely die a lot” in the game, and they are not lying. After an hour playing, it’s quite likely you have died about 20 times, and may not have even gotten out of the main character’s house. If you’re up for a challenge, this game might be perfect for you.

Edited by Alisen Downey


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